Poor Perseids, Battening Down For Flossie

We stayed over Tom & Lana Plum’s house last night, hoping to take advantage of their very dark skies to see the Perseids. Slept on the porch on thin mattresses, beautiful milky way / Sagittarius / Scorpio in the evening hours. Saw a couple nice earth-skimmers around midnight, and then dozed fitfully until 4AM for the “big show.” Unfortunately, large portions of the sky were overcast so that only 1st magnitude stars shone through, and there was only a keyhole near Orion that gave a glimpse of a few meteors.

 Drove home early to talk to our wall construction guys and I now see that Hurricane Flossie is projected to remain a Category 3 as it passes by and if it’s north of the projected track at all, it will hit the Big Island. We should get significant protection from Mauna Loa and Hualalai mountains as long as the eye stays south of us and we’re hit by the East-to-West portion. If the eye tracks north and we get West-to-East, that could potentially suck.


Coming To The Big Island This Week? The Helicopter Tour Might Be Worth It

imageSince I blogged the pause and restart of Pu’u O’o, for completeness I will report that the eruption on The Big Island of Hawai’i has not only returned, it’s in probably the most visually exciting phase it’s been in in years. After the Father’s Day earthquake swarm, the lava being fed to the surface has apparently moved “downrift” of the Pu’u O’o crater and in the past week has found the surface in what’s called a “fissure eruption.”

 This morning’s update speaks of a 100M-wide flow of lava (the picture is of a flow that was apparently around 10M across). If you want to see lava, you should know:

  • The hundreds-of-feet tall lava fountains in the advertisements happened for a few days twenty-four years ago,
  • From a distance of more than a few dozen yards, during daylight hours, flowing lava doesn’t look spectacular (the surface rock’s heat-related red component is very largely overwhelmed by the ambient light of the tropics). (Hmmm…. if your camcorder / digital camera has an infrared “night-shot” mode … )
  • Within a few dozen yards, it’s about the third-most amazing thing you’ll ever see
  • At night, even from a distance, flowing lava is probably the second-most amazing thing you’ll ever see. The visible red light from the heat is visible from many miles away.
  • Being within a few dozen yards of lava entering the ocean at night is the single most amazing thing you’ll ever see.

Right now, apparently the fissure eruption is throwing up some 2M high fountains. My guess is that this is among the best stuff you’ll ever see from a helicopter.

In summary, as of 7/28/2007:

  • Eruption’s back on and vog has returned (bummer)
  • You probably can’t see any of this from land at the moment, but the lava will very likely eventually find its way off the ridge its on and be visible, at night, from a distance
  • There are no legal hikes with a vantage point of the current eruption
  • A helicopter tour of the fissure eruption might give you a once-in-a-decade view

All of this will probably change within a week or so. If you’re planning on being a lava tourist, absolutely check out the daily eruption report.

Lava Lake in Pu’u O’o

Lava has reemerged at Pu’u O’o vent, creating a vast, slowly circulating lake of lava, as captured from the USGS cams at dawn on 7/8/07. During the day, it doesn’t look like much, but try the live Pu’u O’o Webcams around dusk (7-9 Hawaiian) or before dawn (~5:30 AM Hawaiian) and you should see a rare sight.


(Click image for 1920 x 480 version)

Volcanic Caesura

After Pele rolled over, she’s gone into a deeper slumber and the Big Island is experiencing the lowest level of volcanic activity since 1983. Such pauses have happened twice before during the current 24-year-long eruption and previously lasted just a few weeks.

The effect on the Kona (leeward) side of the island is dramatic. For the whole time I’ve known this island, the 14,000′ Mauna Loa creates a huge atmospheric eddy in which the volcanic aerosols are transformed into “vog” (volcanic smog). This makes Kona “normally” hazy, with an indistinct horizon and, for some, noticeable effects when exercising. A few times per year, when the winds shift, and the sky becomes blue, it’s literally like a scrim being lifted. It’s been like that every day for the past couple weeks.

No one expects this pause to be long-lasting, but for the moment, it’s marvelous.

ScottEVest Cargo Shorts Can’t Accommodate Moleskine Reporter

A few weeks ago, Scottevest Cargo Shorts were on sale. I’ve never owned a Scottevest product before, but they’re well-reviewed, and if there’s one piece of clothing a Hawaiian geek requires, it’s capacious cargo shorts.

They’re quite good looking and can handle a full load of iPod, wallet, digital camera, and phone. However, they have a critical flaw, of which I’m surprised given the company’s clear understanding of their audience: there is no pocket that accommodates a Moleskine Reporter Notebook (or the slightly smaller and more casual Sherbert Notes 7″x5″). The “big” pockets on the Cargo Shorts are cut with an angled entry that writing-sized notebooks can’t negotiate (see photo).

Of course the shorts can handle notecards or memo pads, which are sufficient for to-do lists and Hipster PDAs, but have you ever tried to record a non-trivial thought on a memo pad? Doesn’t work.

Perhaps the next release will solve this critical bug.


Pele On The Move?

A big earthquake swarm on the SE side of the island is “consistent with a shallow intrusion of magma” at Kilauea / Pu’u O’o. They don’t predict eruptions, but I have a feeling that Pele might be restless. Luckily, that’s 60 miles away and on the other side of a 13,000 foot mountain.

Skype Stinks, At Least To and From Hawai’i

I know people love Skype, but my experience using it from Hawai’i has always been terrible — horrid echo, constant break up — and on my recent trip to Panama, it was equally useless for calling to Hawai’i. That’s all I have to say about that.


IMG_0193Just back from a 4-day mini-vacation in Kauai, hiker’s paradise (well, if your idea of paradise is a hike in the rain to the world’s highest swamp along knife-edge ridges with 3,000′ drops…) Looks like I missed lots of interesting goings-on and Mix is going to generate tons of posts, so back to work. In the meantime, you can check out some photos at Flickr.